Sunday, 14 December 2014

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

As they say in the song ... "Baby, it's cold outside!"


Iain and I are spending a lot of time in the house just now as he is recuperating from hurting his back.  He fell when he was with Alastair and Dawn in Oregon and, now home and in his own surroundings, he is ... well ... hengin' together.  No he did not injure his spine; he cracked 3 ribs (back, left side).



It's Christmas card time and here is the artwork for our 2014 card.  Peter arrived yesterday with his drawing of Seol-na-Mara in Stornoway.  No longer do I go to the printers for production of our annaul card .... going on 20 years or so.... but use the high-street photocopy agency.  (I am aware that is people like me who caused printers to go out of business.)


When stuck in the house I engage in my mother's strategy: get the baking tins out.  Faced with the situation of an abundance of limes from Maggie (who is away galavanting with Brian) I am faced with either drinking a large amount of gin or using them in a thai curry.  While I get my act together nothing is easier than (turning the radio on) and cutting out cookies.


Cookies for kiddies, cookies for the neighbours, cookies for me with a cup of tea in front of the fire.




Thursday, 4 December 2014

CHRISTMAS BAKING

Anne B came for coffee this morning.  She is keeping well and looks forward to having her living room redecorated.  She still lives in the same house since she was married in the late 50s. The carpet of that period is of such good quality that it does not need replacing!


I made some shortbread cookies using my mother's recipe which is seen her in Auntie Mary's handwriting as I appear not to have ever made a note of how my mum made them. The cutters are Mairi's. 

What I clearly recall is that my mother's shortbread was always a dark tan colour which, I realize now, is because she used brown sugar.  They were always cut into star shapes and had a halved  glacĂ©  cherry in the middle.  My lot would never eat the cherry so I give that part a miss!


The pointsettias are from Mairi as well.  They fairly give a Christmas feel to the kitchen!


The children like opening an Advent Calendar so I bought this one to sit on the side-board.

Monday, 24 November 2014

A MOMENT CAPTURED AT DAWN

On Sunday morning I was up early (as is my habit) when I had been staying overnight in the Erskine Bridge Hotel down on the Clyde (west of the city of Glasgow).

I looked out the window at about 7:15 am and noticed fog on the river below me.  I got out my iPhone and held it up to the glass to take a photo.


This was the scene below: my first shot of a series.  The city of Glasgow lights are shining in the distance as I faced east over the River Clyde below.

I took a notion to see if I could open the window to get a second shot. It opened without difficulty and I held my camera up to the edge of the frame to give it stability (being careful not to lose it 'overboard'!)


Suddenly I became aware of a low, rythmical splashing sound coming from my left out of sight ... and look what came into view ... the (paddle steamer) Waverley ... heading on up the river. Perfect timing!



And here are a few more shots and all from my wee iPhone!



Friday, 21 November 2014

EARTH TREMOR?

I had a weird experience today. I was awake but dozing around 5 am when I felt a tremor, in fact, 2 short tremors.  An earthquake of sorts?  I gather it is not uncommon to have tremors; apparently it is just that we don't notice them.

I noted the time 5:25 am and decided to Google a site which might show something in real time.  Here it is:
 
The organisation which monitors tremors in the UK is the British Geological Survey. Their website is here  and shows a graph in the section called Real-time Seismograms.  As there was no key I assume a tremor is shown as blue.  Well there was nothing at 5:25 am although it showed something at 5:15 am.  So it's a mystery.

Nonetheless, if I make a note of it ... and if it happens again or is noted by other people in the area .... then perhaps a pattern might emerge which could lead to an explanation.



Thursday, 20 November 2014

GINGERBREAD HOUSE: STRUCTURAL CHALLENGE

After school today we made a gingerbread house. As a structure it was a  complete failure but the 2 hours of preparation - rolling, cutting and baking - were saved by decorating various "off-cuts" and slabs which did not collapse.


Using my Auntie Mary's card template of 40+ years ago I got out my recipe for gingersnaps.  This is my handwriting in my teens! The recipe was from the Vancouver Province (newspaper) probably about late 50s.  The 1982 Woman's Day magazine that Mary used for the template is stored in my recipe shelf in a brown envelope with "Province of British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food" on the left corner.


Ishbel who is nearly 8 years old is tall enough to work at the counter and is quite a tidy little worker and careful when working near the hot stove (UK = cooker).   

Alastair is not tidy but rather "creative" and that is his word! Ask him to cut out a shape for the roof or a wall and he goes off and produces a ... hut? dog-house? shed?   Oh dear ... I have had 47 years of this!


Our house wouldn't stay erect but the day was saved by having spare Christmas tree shaped cookies to decorate. I buy tubs of Betty Crocker icing and lots of sprinkles for decoration - worth every penny!


Harriet joined us when Mairi arrived.  She is now sitting at the table like all the big people.


While usually running around everywhere she now will sit for 5 or more minutes with a board book in her lap. She appears to be quite absorbed by them.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A (CANADIAN) PROUSTIAN MOMENT

I must share with you my discovery yesterday when I paid a visit to the Whole Foods store in Giffnock. 

Having grown up on an orchard farm in British Columbia this is what was grown and picked for shipment abroad …. MacIntosh apples!   Oh, the smell of them when I walked into the main entrance yesterday was a real ‘Proustian Moment’!



Can't you just smell them?!!!


They were piled up on a big pallet at the entrance.  I could have been in Kelowna or Edmonton mall ... the place had the same feel about it.  Furthermore... things just got better and better.  I came across Canadian wheat (i.e. strong, 'winter' wheat).  Now maybe that is what is used by the mills in the UK but this was bagged as the photos below illustrate.





And believe it or not they even had some Oregon wine on the shelf.  Of course, I couldn't leave the store without buying a bottle.  (Actually I had gone in for walnuts as they are the absolute best you can get anywhere ... but they were out of stock.)


So I tough it out as I sit with my iPad, the Whole Foods catalogue and the rest of my brown paper bag of apple!  


Monday, 3 November 2014

KIDS CATCH-UP

It has been a busy few weeks.... Here are a few photos taken recently.

 Indy aged 3.25 years (taken by Alastair at a playpark)



Harriet aged 1 year 4 months (taken by me this week)



Alastair aged 6.75 years (taken by John at Chinese Warriors Exhibition in Dublin this week)

Alastair, Harriet and Ishbel who is nearly 8 years old (taken by John in the summer)